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Sunday, February 08, 2015

me, Mike Huckabee, and Christ's descent from the cross

As I meditated yesterday on the presence of God, I returned to the image of Christ's descent from the cross, after he died, as he was prepared for a quick burial. I placed myself in the scene. I wanted to clean his wounds. I kept splashing the vinegar on my hands and rubbing my fingers over his chest and over his cuts. His gashes from the whipping were deep. I know it's gross, but my fingers kept bouncing in and out of his flayed flesh.

While I washed his body, I wondered who else was with me, preparing him in adoration. I knew Mary was around, but I didn't see her. As I looked down his body, toward his legs I saw Mike Huckabee. I was as surprised as you are. He and I are only united in our relationship with Jesus. Mike and I are very different in our political ideology, and we do not agree on many areas as to how Christ's ethics should be applied civically. In my meditation, we also disagreed on how to get the body ready for burial.

Mike was in a rush. He wanted to hurry up and sew up the body bag before evening, when Sabbath began. I wanted more time. I wasn't done. I needed more time to mourn. Mike didn't want to break any more religious rules. I was getting mad at him. I resented him. I do now. My dilemma is he, like myself, claims to follow Jesus. He belongs with Jesus, like me. Jesus accepts him, as he accepts me.

I have changed over the past decade when Mike was last running for U.S. president. Back then, I really liked Mike. I was a conservative believer. To resist accepting Mike as a fellow pilgrim, is to reject myself. But I have abundant grace for myself. If he and I are so much alike, though in a time shift, then he is not "them" but "we."

In my fall series, "Not everything Biblical is Christian," I wrote them as letters to my younger fundamentalist self instead of those bad fundys. If I can allow myself to be wrong, I am obligated to let others be wrong as well.

Huckabee is really easy to accept when compared to these folks, though.


They propagated violent oppression of fellow citizens, even Christians, who were of African descent. They were wrong. This picture exemplifies the expression, "Christ loves sinners." The guys in hoods believed in the love of Jesus, but with conditions. They were wrong. My understanding of the love of Jesus has been limited and conditional as well. It still is.

As I washed the body of Christ with Mike Huckabee, my understanding of God's love grew a little bit more. It was a difficult and multi-year process for me to move to an open and affirming position for gay pilgrims. Part of that process included strong disagreement from those I formerly agreed with, which led to my resentment of thought leaders who I no longer agreed with, people like Huckabee.

My struggle is to disagree and love, to persuade with love. I cannot stay angry. This prophetic preacher was able to love the hooded guys, and he was doing it in his 30's and died for it before he was 40.


Friday, February 06, 2015

Descent from the cross

Last night I was meditating on the presence of God, practicing something new to me, the Daily Examen, started 500 years ago by the Catholic saint, Ignatius Loyola. It is prayer and meditation combined. The first step in this prayer is to become aware of the presence of God.
Rembrandt

I am really not aware of God's presence.This is a challenge for me. I started thinking about Christ on the cross. I then thought about taking his body down off the cross. My hands carried his dead and bloody body down off the instrument of death. I hugged his lifeless body to mine. I laid him down across my bed. And there he laid, in front me, as I sat on my bed.

Jouvenet

It is a powerful image for me. I have never thought about this before.

I did not know until later that night what a rich vein artists have found with this part of Good Friday. Here is a collection of many works.

In my meditation, Jesus laid before me, much bloodier than anything by these art masters. His flesh was ripped open by whips and his beard torn out. He was ugly. He was dead, a lifeless bloody body. His church, also called his body, the one I read about in the news, on Twitter and Facebook, is often ugly, torn, repuslive, stinking and dead. It's a sight that depresses me. Why does a community of love offend so many that they attack it? Why does a community of love attract so many violators who take advantage of her? Why does a community of love also hate? Why the ugliness and the stink?

I mourned for the church. I mourned the ugly parts of the church prevent me from seeing the good parts, from seeing the body of love, from seeing Christ.

I know he doesn't stay dead. After death, after mourning, after emptiness comes life by resurrection. Death does not prevail. Sunday will follow Friday. I may have many Fridays, but Sunday will come. I joined the women in wrapping his body. Covering the wounds. Absorbing the blood. I know as his body did not stay in the grave, neither will his church die away. Life will overcome death. I will know his presence.

It is a comfort to me knowing others have dwelled deeply on this topic. I am eager to learn from those more intense encounters with God as they reflected on Christ's descent from the cross.

Holbein

Hebews 13:20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.